Some people walk into a room and can immediately take control of a situation, delegating tasks and taking on a leadership role. It comes naturally, and everyone can sense it. Professionals call this quality leadership presence, and while it may be hard to define, you know it when you see it. People with a strong leadership presence can bring order to a chaotic environment, and other individuals are typically quick to respect them. If you’re a leader with excellent technical knowledge but can’t get your team to listen long enough to learn from you, it’s time to work on your leadership presence. Let’s explore what leadership presence looks like practically and some of the skills you should cultivate to strengthen your own leadership presence.
1. Be Personable
Employees have a hard time relating to a stiff, closed-off leadership style. They want to feel heard and valued, which requires empathy and personal connection. At the same time, if leaders are too casual, their employees might not respect them as authority figures. A significant aspect of cultivating a solid leadership presence is finding the balance between emotions and intellect, merging your professional skills with your own unique personality and interests. Connecting with employees personally while balancing appropriate professional boundaries can help you gain respect and rapport.
2. Invite Others Into the Conversation
People don’t like feeling bossed around. If a manager walks into a room, lists off a bunch of orders and assignments, and then retires back to their office, that’s not establishing a positive leadership presence. Instead, be willing to sit down with employees to discuss projects and invite them to offer their own feedback and ideas. Your team is more likely to want to work hard to produce results you’ll be happy with if they see value in their work and feel like their thoughts are being heard. They might even have some great ideas that can help the team as a whole!
3. Meet Your Team’s Energy
Knowing your audience is key to many professional endeavors, and leadership presence is no different. Be conscious of the energy in the room and respond accordingly. If it’s a busy day with big deadlines and the team is feeling overwhelmed, be sensitive to that and find ways to encourage them gently. If the office is excited about an upcoming product launch, feed into that! Channel that excitement into productivity. If your presence doesn’t match the energy in the room, you’ll have a hard time being genuinely heard by your audience.
Leadership presence is an abstract concept that can be hard to cultivate, but these three key principles will help you on your way to commanding a room. Being relatable, collaborative, and receptive makes a big difference in how you’re perceived and will significantly affect how your leadership is received.